NEW ORLEANS -- Tony Bertucci is a licensed plumber. He's also sold cars and he has some rental property, but he admits at 24 he was drifting.
Now he's flying.
“You're off the charts excited and you've got this feeling of power underneath you, and then you're flying up in the clouds and you’re looking around with the wind behind you,” Bertucci said. “It's like a mental reset.”
This is flyboarding. Your feet are attached to a board of sorts that’s connected by a long hose to a Waverunner or Sea Doo. The power of the jet ski forces water up and out from under your feet, propelling you out of the water and into the sky and, if you want, back into the water and out once again like a dolphin.
Bertucci saw it on a Florida vacation and got hooked.
“I got about 25 feet in the air and I just, the feeling was pretty amazing. I've never really felt anything like that.”
So last year Bertucci created NOLA Flyboarding, the only licensed company in the state. He gives half hour and hour-long lessons on Lake Pontchartrain, seven days a week if necessary.
After some boat launch hopping early on, NOLA Flyboarding's home base is now at the dock with Brisbi's Restaurant. Bertucci said he is still winning over detractors of the sport but feels there's room for his company in New Orleans.
“I felt that if people knew about it and they at least tried it to get the feeling that I got that it would spread like wildfire,” he said.
He started the business last fall and his first official season began May 1. Already he's flown more than 250 people.
There have been many hurdles along the way, like with any new company, but when you are passionate and hungry for success you push higher.
“I stay more in the fact that it’s not going great. I've got to do better. I really need to get this done. This isn't right. I've got to fix this. I've got to get better, got to get better, got to get better,” he said.
Bertucci said weight and age are not an issue, and he's flown people from 12 to 73 years old.
“I don't want to hear anyone's excuses, because I've flown people you would not believe could fly.”
So we decided to put that to the test.
Let me say, watching Bertucci fly and flying are two totally different concepts, but officially I did get airborne. And it was great, if only a few times, for a few seconds.
But the fact of the matter is, if you want to know the lake’s salinity or temperature, I'm your guy.
Bertucci says for flyboarding and his fledgling company, the sky is truly the limit.
“Literally anything you can allow your mind to do without being fearful of what’s going to happen, you can do.”
And in this case he may just be right.
Bertucci has done some advertising, but he said word of mouth on social media has been the biggest plus. He said the best way to secure a lesson spot is through a reservation.